Every thriving business strives to be HERE: Hungry, Efficient, Resilient, Enlightened

John Maeda
5 min readJul 25, 2023
Illustrated single stroke vector drawing of the letters H, E, R, E in 3d axonometric projection

As a fan of Andrew Ng’s recent TED talk “How AI Could Empower Any Business,” I contrasted it with the many other talks in the TED library that raise the spectre of Black Mirror and/or the Terminator films. In that sense, I guess it’s why I found Andrew’s talk so interesting because it laid out in plain terms how AI can possibly benefit small businesses — like his favorite local pizza joint. Having grown up in a tofu-making business in the “international district” (aka “chinatown”) of Seattle, I liked Andrew’s perspective because it spoke to an important kind of empathy for folks like my parents.

TED 2022 Andrew Ng / “How AI Could Empower Any Business”

I knew my parents as always sooo tired. If AI could have enabled them to take more breathers, boss around their hard-working children less <wink>, and/or help the business to make more money so that maybe their kids didn’t have to work for free <extra wink>. I would have really loved that kind of AI. And this new kind of AI feels like it might be able to do the job — if aimed in the right directions.

Start HERE

I’ve found it helpful to oversimplify the nature of a 21st century business with my favorite hobby of mnemonics :+).

Every thriving business strives to be HERE — especially during this new AI wave.

  • Hungry
  • Efficient
  • Resilient
  • Enlightened

The first two axes “Hungry” and “Efficient” will feel the most capitalistic.

  • Hungry as in, “Hungry for more revenue.” This can happen by increasing existing or developing new revenue streams with customer-centricity and innovations fueled by AI.

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John Maeda

John Maeda: Technologist and product experience leader that bridges business, engineering, design via working inclusively. Currently VP Design and A.I. at MSFT.